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Tablets on tap to get EPA’s Energy Star ratings

by David Needle

January 15 2013

If all goes as planned, tablet buyers will be able to compare Energy Star ratings among different models, according to recent documents posted on the U.S. Energy Star website.

Tablets will be rated based on the Energy Star version 6.1 specification at some point in the future. Energy Star is a joint effort between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

The Energy Star program, which helps shoppers identify the most power-efficient programs, already covers a range of tech and other products including laptops, desktops, monitors, light bulbs, servers, and household appliances.

The IDG News service reports that EPA and DOE originally promoted the idea of including tablets as part of Energy Star version 6.0, which goes into effect June 1, for products like laptops, desktops, displays, thin clients and networking equipment.  But some IT vendors that participate in the Energy Star program argued against the immediate inclusion of tablets, because they said those devices are more like smartphones than PCs and have different assembly and equipment.

The article quotes Casey Harrell, IT analyst at Greenpeace International, as saying the Energy Star standard for tablets would lead to a decrease in energy use over the life of a device.

"It won't remove hazardous materials from a product ... but indirectly will impact toxic pollution,” he said. “More energy efficient devices use less energy and less pollution from those energy sources.”

The EPA says the use of Energy Star-labeled products helped cut close to $18 billion from U.S. utility bills in 2010.

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